Thursday, December 31, 2009

Perspective for the new year



I've started doing something as I finish one year and begin the new....I've started reading the book of Ecclesiastes in one sitting at the end of the year. I just finished these 12 chapters a few minutes ago and am thinking about Solomon's words as he talks about his observations on life and God. "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!" are some of the most familiar words in this book. "There is a time for everything..." became the lyrics of a popular pop song in years past. This little book is rich with observations from Solomon and his conclusions about life. It's a great way to calibrate your life and thoughts as you finish one year and start another. It's quite humbling to realize how little we control, how little we know about our lives and the days ahead. It's humbling to know that we each will quickly be forgotten once we are gone. It's humbling to be reminded that we are not God. It's a great book to read at the end of one year as you begin the new one.

Eccl. 12:13 Now all has been heard;

here is the conclusion of the matter:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

for this is the whole duty of man.

14 For God will bring every deed into judgment,

including every hidden thing,

whether it is good or evil.

The end of a year


Today is the last day of 2009. Imagine, another year gone already. With the end of anything there is always a little reflection on what is finally passing away. It comes to my mind that in any year I have lived there are a host of boring normal days that are just part of living, but there are also the highs and lows of a year that will come to mind as we think back. In this post I won't go into the lows. Those are for me and God to talk about. There's enough bad news in the world and you don't need to hear about mine too. So let me simply take a moment to talk about one of the highs of the year. In late June my wife and I, along with an amazing team, went to Kenya to teach a group of pastors and their wives. It was a great 10 days together. Time to meet new friends, to get to know the team we went with and to experience Africa. It will be one of the highs of my life. I can see why people go back to Africa. The people are wonderful! The experience was life changing for me and I look forward to a day when I can return and spend time with my new friends in Kenya.
There are many times like this in our lives. Times we remember fondly. The life changing events stick out in our remembrance, but there are little highs all through the year that will change us and mold us as well. The last two years have been difficult for me in one way- In February 2008 I fell and crushed my heel. Since that accident I have lived with constant pain in my foot. A little high for me has been that in the last 2 weeks it has not hurt. I'm glad to finally be able to walk without constant pain. Thankful for little things...little blessings...yes! God is so good. Even with the tragedies of life, the problems and challenges we face, God blesses us and encourages us for the new year ahead. I look forward to see what God will do in 2010. It's not a time for fear. Jesus told us not to be afraid of the days ahead, but to trust him. I look forward to seeing what God does as we serve him in these last days.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Planning ahead


One thing that is sure...there are trials and temptations ahead of each one of us. We each have days ahead that will test our faith. The best way to be ready for these challenges is to know they are coming and keep your relationship with God active, alive and fresh. Read God's word and talk to him regularly. Planning ahead is the best way to deal with the inevitable trials and temptations we each face. The person who is most likely to fall to trials and temptations is the one who thinks it will never happen to them. Trials come to every life. We can't avoid them. One of the notable comments I've overheard at a funeral I spoke at was this, "I can't believe this has happened to our family!"
...
Caution! trials and temptations ahead. Plan ahead.
...
James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The latest in political correctness?

Ok, now this is funny. Here's the latest new law in Canada. Maybe it's too cold up there, eh?
...
December 24,2009 Jenny Wagler/Staff Writer
...
"Sechelt dogs that "without provocation" chase any animal — be it a rat, squirrel, seagull, bear or cougar — would violate a dog licensing and control amendment bylaw that passed three readings at the Dec. 16 council meeting.
The first draft of the bylaw, prepared by District of Sechelt staff, would only have stopped dogs from chasing, biting or attacking domesticated animals. But at committee of the whole Dec. 9, Coun. Keith Thirkell suggested expanding the bylaw to include wild animals and birds as well. Thirkell argued that this would bring it in line with provincial and federal legislation that protects various wild animals, including migratory birds and endangered species.
Councillors Fred Taylor and Alice Janisch voted against the bylaw.
"People have given me examples where their dog has run after seagulls and that would be a crime [if we pass this bylaw]," Taylor said. "One individual has talked to me about their dog chasing a rat in their yard. That would be a crime. People have talked again about bears in the park and how their dog ran after the bear to defend them and save them from being attacked. That would be a crime. I just think we're unnecessarily criminalizing behaviour in our community."
Coun. Ann Kershaw said the clause "without provocation" was key, and that she hoped common sense would guide how the bylaw gets enforced.
"I've thought it over and I think that if a coyote was in my yard, then I think that's provocation in itself," she said. "It depends on your interpretation of provocation. And a bird fluttering away in front of a dog, that's provocation."
Thirkell asked staff to clarify if the bylaw would be enforced differently for incidents that occurred on people's private property.
"If you look at it from practical terms, it's highly unlikely our bylaw enforcement officer would be as concerned with something occurring on somebody's private property, because there's a good chance nobody would be complaining about it," District director of corporate services Jo-Anne Frank said. "But if somebody saw a dog chasing a bird and had an issue with it, and it says in our bylaw that that's an offence, then theoretically our bylaw enforcement officers would be reacting to that complaint and enforcing the provisions of the bylaw.""
...
So do I understand this correctly? Dogs are not allowed to chase squirrels? What has this world come to?

...

Best and worst of 2009



We all have our lists....the best things of the year and the worst. I'm sure, in just a moment of thinking, you could give me your list. On the list of best you might tell me about a trip or a new job. There may be family blessings or financial successes that would be on the top of your list. But we all make our lists based on our own rating system...how did it affect me? On your list of worst you could have a job loss, a relationship failure or an illness. Again, we make our lists based on what we believe were the best and worst things in our lives.

But.....what if God is brought into the discussion? What if he were to tell you the end of each of the things on your list? What if what you thought was the worst thing of the year actually was part of God's plan to bring about your very best? What if our lists are UPSIDE DOWN? It does change everything to know that God is working in our lives. It does make a list of what we think were bad things just a list of things we haven't seen God's finished work in yet. We don't know how they will end, but at the moment they seem to be failures. But....what if God's not done yet? What is he's still working on our worst list? What if what we think is our worst is part of God's plans for our best? Maybe we should hold off on that list for now.....

To the third and fourth generation...


The bible promises us riches beyond measure, but they are not the riches you would think of...they are children. The rich heritage of a godly man or woman are their children who become godly men and women after them. I can't imagine how this works, but God seems to take the best from our efforts and molds our children into men and women who then parent their own children. The promise of God is that he will bless us with a rich heritage if we will follow him. I've tried to do that with my life, although I have failed many times, and once in a while I get a glimpse of what God has done. It's all God's work, but what a treat to see that I haven't been a complete failure! Here's a post my son wrote this morning on facebook. It is humbling and I feel most unworthy of such kind words, but his words have made my year. These words are the result of another influence...my own dad modeled for me what a man should be and from that model I was carved. Now I am blessed to pass these riches on to a third and fourth generation. Thanks to a most amazing son...
...
"I spent the evening with my family, and my wife's family, and it got me thinking. I've been getting a lot of compliments lately on what a good father and husband I am. I believe in giving credit where credit is due, and I don't take compliments well, but really it's my father who deserves the glowing reviews. I learned everything I know about being a father and husband from him. He is hands down the strongest, most honest, hardest working, selfless, and loving man I've ever known. Not to mention he has a great sense of humor. His influence can be found in everything I do, not just the with my family, but with my life. I learned my work ethic, how to forge friendships, how to be there for people, how to truly care about those around me, and so much more from my father. For those of you who may have met him, he may seem quiet, or stoic. For those of you who KNOW him, you've seen a man who has made the most out of his life with every passing day. If I can be just a fraction of the man that he raised me to be, than I will be a man worth my salt. A man full of confidence, self worth, and compassion. God broke the mold when he made my dad, but hopefully he used some of those pieces when he made me. I love you dad." -Ian Messerli

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Quote of the day

"If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
-C.H. Spurgeon

Thursday, December 24, 2009

An amazing promise, conclusion

Isaiah 9:6-7
...
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
...
Prince of peace
...
Tom Constable wrote, "He would be the "Prince of Peace," the monarch whose coming results in peace between God and man and between man and man." With his first coming peace between God and man has been accomplished. With his second coming peace between man and man will be a reality. In that day the prince of peace will become the King of Kings. Prince of peace...the title itself talks about a man who will come and accomplish what no one had done before him. The title hints at something God wants for us...peace. Peace with God, peace with those around us and peace inside. Peace isn't possible without the coming of this prince. Now, because he has come peace is available. Peace is coming to its fulfillment in the days ahead. We cannot imagine now how great it will be to live at peace in every area of our lives, but when this prince returns he will bring the peace we all long for.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The undiscovered gift



Early this week I sent a gift to a friend in another part of the world. The only way to get it there is by Western Union. The gift for my friend has been waiting for days, but he doesn't know it's there because he hasn't checked his e-mail to discover I sent it. I long for him to read his e-mail to discover the awaiting gift. But Christmas is almost here and I've heard nothing from him. I fear he will miss the gift....I don't want my friend to think I don't care...that I didn't think of him. I want him to know his gift awaits.

I wonder...is this how God feels about us? He's sent the gift, but many have not read the announcement that the gift has arrived. It's sitting there, waiting for their discovery. Imagine how God must feel to hear so many say, "God doesn't care. He doesn't love me." When all along the gift awaits their discovery. All they have to do is know that it has arrived and receive it. Christmas is that gift. God's gift of his son is that undiscovered gift. As you celebrate your own discovery of this wonderful gift take a moment and pray for others who have not yet discovered the arrival of God's amazing gift. I wish they knew the gift is theirs and it simply waits for their unwrapping.

An amazing promise, part 4

Isaiah 9:6-7
...
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
...
Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
...
Now we come to the most unexpected part of this prophet's words. In the last part of verse 6 Isaiah writes that this child who is born, this son who is given will be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father. Unexpected because no one, then or now, would expect God himself to show up on planet earth to be the Messiah. No one expected God to come himself, but he did! He came to show us his love, to show us himself and to do what we could never do for ourselves. Mighty God, Everlasting Father in a manger. This is a very strange reality for us. The God of the universe...the uncreated one visiting his creation. It's more than we can understand or imagine. This is why Jesus is such an unforgettable figure in history. He's God. When the creator comes himself to fix what we have broken it's a most wonderful day indeed.
...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

People who matter


Time magazine has its "person of the year" article online. This year you can vote on which person is most important. It's their list of "people who matter." People who matter...the title caught my attention and I was surprised who they nominated for their list. Many of the people on their list don't matter to me at all! I wonder who puts this list together? Often the people who matter most in our lives would never make any list because of their popularity. People who really matter in our lives are not in a popularity contest...they are people who care about us. Your list will be different than mine, but the people who won't be on my list are the very ones who are on Time magazine's list. Funny, isn't it....people who matter depends on what really matters most. So, if you were to list three people who matter most to you who would they be?

Imagine a world without Christmas...


We have the grandkids over today. It's great chaos and great fun. It's very loud. Am I getting old? But I am thinking this morning, as we watch Santa Claus 3 with the grandkids, what would the world be like without Christmas? What would our world be like in 2009 if Jesus had never been born?
...
Imagine no Christmas. Jesus never born. The end of the year with no good news to celebrate, no gifts given to celebrate God's gift to us. Imagine a world that never experienced God's love in the amazing gift of God in flesh. Imagine lives without hope, without God's love a reality, without a promise of life, without so much.
...
The world would be an terrible place to live without Christmas. No savior, no hope, no promise, no evidence of God's love. What would it be like? I can only imagine a horrible dark and sad world. The bible makes clear we live out of what's in our hearts. If there was no one in the world walking in love, in hope, how would we treat one another? Who would have built the hospitals? Who would have started the universities? What would morality look like? As I think this out to its conclusion it's clear that a world without God's entrance into it would have been hell itself. You wouldn't have to imagine hell, you would already be there. A world without love and kindness for one another. A world without hope or a reason to live. Everyone living for themselves. All of us taking care of ourselves and using everyone else to get what we want. What a horrible world that would be.
...
The bible says that Jesus came at just the right time. Thinking about a world without him I cannot imagine what a sad place this would be if he hadn't come to show us his love, to die for our sins, to give us hope, a promise and eternity. Hell could not be much worse than a world without a messiah. That's just one of the reasons Christmas is so important. I'm thrilled to be in a world where the savior has come and we celebrate a new world because of his arrival and his life, his death and resurrection. It's a different world because he was here.
...
Merry Christmas! The savior has come! The world will never be the same because of his arrival.
...

An amazing promise, part 3


Isaiah 9:6-7
...
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
...
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor,
...
"Wonderful Counselor" is literally "wonder of a counselor". His counsel goes beyond any man's wisdom. Jesus' comfort and counsel for us meets the need of the heart. His love draws us to him. As Jesus said, "I have not come to judge, but to save." Salvation means God's full intent to restore and repair the heart and life of each one of us. Need someone to talk to who really understands? He has lived our lives. He knows what we go through. He cares. He can help. Talk to Jesus. He is a wonderful counselor.

Monday, December 21, 2009

An amazing promise, part 2


Isaiah 9:6-7
...
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
...
and the government will be on his shoulders.
...
King Jesus. A title we don't use often. A thought and reality we haven't seen yet, but there is, at this very moment, a man sitting on the throne of heaven ruling over all of creation. He is King of eternity. He is Jesus. We don't see his rule in our world right now, but one day we will. He rules over all the affairs of the universe and one day soon all will bow to his lordship. The promise of this eternal king, this glorious God ruling the affairs of men seems oppressive to many, but to those who know him it's a reality we await with joy. Jesus, king of everything? He is king now and I can't wait for his kingdom to be established here as well. Come, King Jesus.

Monday's cartoon


Saturday, December 19, 2009

An amazing promise, part 1



There's an amazing promise in the book of Isaiah. It was written centuries before Jesus was born, but its promise is almost beyond our imaginations. In the days leading to Christmas I would like to talk about these two short verses. This is part one. I'll add the rest of the verses, line by line, as we move towards Christmas.
...
Isaiah 9:6-7
...
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
...
In the first two lines of these verses is a unique revelation. A child is born...this one we are discussing is a human being...part of mankind. Whoever the author is talking about has joined us in our struggles as a human child. He really existed, really lived and went through all we go through living in this broken world. A child is born, but there is more....a son is given. These two simple phrases speak of a child born, but it also speaks about a son who was a son before he was born. This verse hints at eternity in this son...the very child who was born for us. Eternity and humanity meeting in this one little child. Christmas, the birth of this child, is the ultimate revelation of God's love to us. What a wonderful God.
...

Merry Christmas!



Christmas week is upon us. It's a great time to be with family and celebrate God's great love and grace. Joye and I want to wish you all a wonderful Christmas holiday.
...
Merry Christmas!

Christmas


Christmas is just a few days away. I know it's probably not when Jesus was born, but it is a time we have remembered it for centuries. Gradually, in our country, the real meaning of Christmas and the birth of Christ is being forced out of the discussion. Some are wanting a "non-religious" Christmas. That idea is such an oxymoron....Christmas IS a religious holiday. It's a day we remember the entrance of God into our world to solve our problem of sin. The birth of Jesus those many centuries ago in a backwater town in Israel has changed history forever. There is no other person, no other life that has made such an impact on the world as the life of Jesus. Why? Because, as one small child said, "Because he's God!" But it's so much more. The birth of Jesus is the clear demonstration of how much God loves us. That everlasting, never quenching bottomless love of God that will move him to become a man himself to save us from an eternity apart from him. Christmas is about God's love. It's a reminder that God's not mad at us, he loves us so much that he sent his son to give us life. Enjoy Christmas this year and remember....it's proof that God loves you.

Saturday's cartoon


(click on cartoon to enlarge)
...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Feeling invisible

My friend, Mike, sent this to me this morning. I really like it. It's a message clearly meant for everyone, not just women. I hope you are encouraged by these thoughts.



Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Praying for Matt


Just a mile from our church a young pastor has been serving God and building a church that has caught international attention. Now we hear that the tumor they removed from his brain last week was cancer and they weren't able to get it all.
...
It's a difficult day for Matt Chandler, his family as well as for his church. I have run into Matt often at our local coffee haunt. He's a dynamic young man who has built a large and vibrant church. This news and the days ahead will be difficult for Matt, his family and his church. I'll be praying for them all. I'm praying for his healing, but I'm also praying that God will work through all of these events for Matt's good and God's glory.
...

Amazing moments


In our staff meeting yesterday we read the story of the dedication of Jesus from Luke 2. It's an amazing story of a moment in time. While the world around them were oblivious to this most amazing moment, these four people celebrated one of the greatest events of humanity, the only begotten Son of God being dedicated to God as the first born son of Mary and Joseph.
...
I encourage you to read the story when you have time, but briefly here is what I discovered in these wee hours of the morning as I thought about the passage- All four of these people, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna, were all part of God's amazing plan. Mary and Joseph were obedient to obey all the law required in dedicating Jesus to the Lord. Simeon was waiting for the Messiah to appear. Anna was worshipping God and serving him.
...
While the world around them went on with their lives, in this brief moment in time we see a most amazing celebration of God's promise and provision. As God's son is dedicated to him as the first born son these four celebrate this most amazing moment with worship and praise. Here, at the epicenter of man's redemption only these four are aware of this amazing event while around them all goes on as it normally would. Isn't it like God to do amazing things in our midst while the world around us misses the events of eternity entirely? For these four, Mary and Joseph obeying God...Simeon waiting for God and Anna worshipping God...this moment was a moment that changed the world and no one else noticed. Jewish priests all around, worshippers coming to the temple, others praying....and not one noticed that God had passed by....in the arms of Mary. They were all busy serving God, but didn't recognize him when he passed by. But four people knew. They were waiting, worshipping, obedient...and they saw what everyone else missed....God in their midst.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The best Christmas decorations ever!


"Good news is that I truly out did myself this year with my Christmas decorations. The bad news is that I had to take him down after 2 days. I had more people come screaming up to my house than ever. Great stories. But two things made me take it down. First, the cops advised me that it would cause traffic accidents as they almost wrecked when they drove by. Second, a 55 year old lady grabbed the 75 pound ladder almost killed herself putting it against my house and didn't realize he was fake until she climbed to the top (she was not happy). By the way, she was one of many people who attempted to do that. My yard couldn't take it either. I have more than a few tire tracks where people literally drove up my yard."

"Time is running out...?"




THE END OF THE WORLD IS NEAR!

"The chief negotiator for the U.S. at the climate summit in Copenhagen says leaders have made some progress, but that it is not enough and time is running out to come up with deal that all countries can agree on.
"We don't have very much time," said Todd Stern. "The clock is ticking it is like a big hourglass. We've made some progress, but we still have a long way to go."" -Fox News online
...
I must tell you that these kind of statements make me smile. Fear merchants like Mr. Stern are trying to force us into choices based on our fears that all life will end if "we don't do something."
...
But here is what God says...
...
Genesis 8:22 (New International Version)
22 "As long as the earth endures, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
...
I've been watching the global warming debate (or should I say climate change) for a while. To be honest, I'm not worried about it. Sounds harsh, doesn't it? Maybe even a little arrogant, but the truth is that this earth is being taken care of by a sovereign God who has a plan for it and for us. It will endure until HIS plan is complete. The belief that we can destroy the planet by our actions is amusing and is not true.
...
I do think we should be good stewards of what God has given us. We should be wise in our use of the planet's resources. They are a trust from God and we should take care of everything God gives us. But we will not destroy the climate by our efforts. The planet's demise by the hands of man is not in God's plan. The bible does tell us that this world will burn up, but not by man's efforts. Here are Peter's words regarding the end. This is how our world will end. It will endure until God's plans are fully complete and then....
..
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
...
There is an end coming. God will bring all things to a day the Bible calls "The day of the Lord", but it won't be by our hands or by our emissions. The important thing for us to do, along with being good stewards, is to make sure we are ready for the day when we will account to God for the lives we have lived.

Monday, December 14, 2009

A smile for the day...


Quote of the day


"Kitchen table wisdom says it's good to be good. ... Turned out there actually is pretty good science about this." -Stephen Post, author "Why Good Things Happen to Good People"

Living upside down



Whenever I read Jesus' words in Luke 6 I have to stop and calibrate. It's difficult. We live in a world that's been turned upside down from what God intended. If anyone lives as God meant us to live we look different. We look upside down. Here's the passage that always makes me stop to look at how I'm living in this upside down world...

Luke 6:27 "But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

These words are so contrary to the way our world works and yet these are the life choices for a Christ follower. Every sentence of Jesus' words challenges our rights to ourselves. He calls us to love others in such a way that we give up all our rights to our own way, our own things, our own best and yet, at the end, we see the intent...Jesus is calling us to treat others in the way we want to be treated whether that ever happens or not. This is the way Jesus lived out his life. He lived these verses much to the confusion of those around him. Jesus turned the other cheek, he blessed when cursed, he showed us the final tally of this kind of life. It's a life that seems upside down, but if we live it out it will turn our world right side up.

Monday's cartoon


Friday, December 11, 2009

Where are you?


I've been thinking about a passage of scripture that has been in my thoughts for a number of months. It's been rattling around in my head because of the ongoing nature of the question by the first one to ever ask it.
...
This question, "where are you?" was the first question ever asked. It was God's question to Adam as he looked for him in the garden. For an omniscient God it seems like a silly question, but the question wasn't so much for God's information as it was for Adam. "Where are you?" is a question God has asked man since he asked it the first time. For Adam the answer was an interesting one. For Adam, the first man, his response created 3 new things that never existed before. Adam replied,"I heard you in the garden and I as afraid (1. a new emotion) because I was naked (2. a new awareness). And I hid" (3. a new relationship). And since these 3 new "inventions" we have dealt with fear, our nakedness before God and we have been hiding from him ever since.
...
From that first dreadful day God has been on a quest for man. He continues to come to each heart and life to ask, "where are you?" You see, God is on a quest to find his men and women. A quest to once more have a relationship with us. He is roaming the world asking those who will listen, "where are you?" Do you live in fear? Are you dealing with the embarrassment of what you have done? Is the raw nakedness of your life and your actions causing you to run from God who sees everything? Have you been trying to hide from him?
...
God's chasing hard after us, not to punish, but to have a relationship with us. He wants to recapture the relationship he meant for man to have with him when he created us. When you hear that question in the whispers of your day, "where are you?" know that God is looking for you. He wants you to know him and know his love. He wants to give you all that he meant for you to enjoy in relationship with him. Don't let your fears overwhelm you. Don't worry that God know about all that you have done. Don't hide from him. Run to him. There are open arms waiting to have a relationship with you. He loves you.
...

Coming soon.....

I'm working on several things I want to share with you, but they aren't ready yet. Here's a hint of a few of the things I'm working on now.....

"Stumbling toward eternity"- This will be several parts on how God leads us in our lives.

"Band-aids and bullet holes"- This is a piece I told you about a few weeks ago, but it's not ready yet. I will get it done as soon as I can.

I look forward to the year ahead and the opportunity to trust God together as we near the end of time. Exciting days, aren't they?

Quote of the day


"God never stops working in and through our lives. So many people speak of our enemy and his relentlessness. How much greater is God's relentlessness!" -David Vinson
...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cowboy's Ten Commandments


(1) Just one God.

(2) Honor yer Ma & Pa.

(3) No telling tales or gossipin'.

(4) Git yourself to Sunday meeting.

(5) Put nothin' before God.

(6) No foolin' around with another fellow's gal.

(7) No killin'.

(8) Watch yer mouth.

(9) Don't take what ain't yers.

(10) Don't be hankerin' for yer buddy's stuff.

Y'all git all that?

posted on the wall at Cross Trails Church in Fairlie , Texas
(Alan, thanks for the e-mail with this attached. I love the way cowboys get to the core of the issues. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

What will you risk?



I've been thinking....

I've been thinking about my own faith and relationship with God. I'm thinking about this one question- What will I risk to know God? What will I risk to gain this relationship with the living God? What will I give up to have HIM? It is a risk. I risk the loss of everything, even my life in some parts of the world, to know him. I risk losing friends, reputation and position. It's a risk to follow God.

I still remember the story of a man sharing the gospel with a young man. He finally asked, "Is there any reason you wouldn't want to trust Christ right now as your savior?" The young man said, "No, I think I would like to do that." The pastor said, "Well, before you do let me give you some reasons you shouldn't...." We are often much too quick to lead someone to faith without telling them the price. The price is high....it will cost you everything. It will cost your very life...all that you have and all you are, but the reward...WOW! There is no reward like knowing God. Salvation now and forever. Forgiveness of sin forever. LIFE! Peace. Hope. Joy. A family like no other. A FATHER, the very one who created us, available to listen whenever we call....and a thousand other things that have filled volumes of books beyond number.

What would you risk for that? Everything!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

On being sheep...



One of the great insults to our pride in the Bible is God's description of us as sheep. Basically, God is saying, "you guys act like sheep!" If you know sheep that's a bitter pill to swallow, it's a blow to our pride, an insult to our intellect.
...
As a "shepherd to sheep" myself I have seen this prove true far too many times. It's hard to admit it, but I'm a sheep too. We are....for the most part...stupid, selfish, inconsiderate, smelly, nervous, easily irritated, not responsive to leadership.....is that enough to get us started? The Bible says, "all we LIKE SHEEP have gone astray." All we? Me too? YES! We wander....we wander from God, from truth, from safety, from the "flock" and find ourselves in trouble. Most of my work as a pastor is helping those sheep who have wandered away as they deal with the results of their wanderings. There's an old gospel song with this verse, "prone to wander, Lord I feel it..." And it's true. We wander because, like sheep, we are dumb! Solomon uses different words to describe it, but dumb will suffice for our purposes.
...
God tells us what will help us...what's best for us, which way to go, and how to find his best. Our response? We ignore him and go "our own way." We are so brilliant, we seem to think we know more than the one who made us. So, today, from one dumb sheep to many more, let me encourage you to stay close to the shepherd, make sure you are close enough to hear his voice. Don't wander off...it will come to no good at all. With Christmas near it's a great opportunity to "wander back" to the shepherd and get to know him all over again. Hanging out with the shepherd will dispel your fear of the wolves all around.

Monday, December 07, 2009

A special need



I've been thinking about this for a while without an easy solution so I thought I would throw it out for your thoughts and prayers. I have a pastor friend in Kenya who has asked me to pray for the money for him to get a digital camera. It's a simple way for him to earn some extra money taking photos of those who need them for documents, licenses, etc. I've thought about this, but have not come up with an easy solution to his need, but then I thought.....how many of us have several digital cameras? How many have upgraded to a better camera, but still have an older one that works well, but isn't needed any more? If you have an extra camera (battery operated is preferred) that you are not using and would give to a pastor in Kenya would you let me know? I know God will provide for Winston, one way or the other, so I thought I would invite you to be part of this provision.
...

Monday's cartoon


Sunday, December 06, 2009

Growing in faith


I have been a student of God's word since I was 14. That's 45 years of reading this amazing book. It has changed my life in so many ways I can't even tell you all the changes it has made.
...
I have noticed, in these days we live in now, that most Christians are not reading the bible. The reasons are numerous and include the current beliefs that God's word is not inerrant. In our day many Christians do not believe that Jesus is the only way, that there is a literal hell, and a hundred other truths clearly described in the bible. If you don't believe it's God's word then why would you feel the need to read it any more than any other book? So we see a Christian culture in possession of God's word and they never read it.
...
But some do believe it's the word of God. For those that want to study it, read it and know God the problem is, as one young man said this week, "Where do I start?" If you start at the beginning and try to read to the end, as if it were a novel, you will quickly abandon your journey out of frustration and boredom. Let me suggest a bible study method I have developed over the years that has really helped me. It keeps God's word fresh, exciting and can be done in a few minutes a day. In fact I usually spend about 30 minutes a day in the word and can read through the entire bible in a year or less. One thing for sure...it's not boring!
...
I have divided the bible into 6 basic sections: Psalms, Proverbs, history, prophets, gospels and letters. That's it. 6 sections to read each day. Reading in this way will keep you involved and excited about God's word.
...
Here's what I do and why...The first thing I do in the morning is check the calendar...what day is it? Whatever the date I read that chapter in Proverbs. There are 31 chapters so I read through Proverbs once a month...that's 12 times a year. Proverbs is Solomon's book. He was the wisest man in history. It's often called wisdom literature. So, Proverbs for my head.
...
Then I head for Psalms. A couple chapters in Psalms is easy (depending on the length of the chapters...be flexible). David was a man after God's own heart. So, Proverbs for the head and Psalms for the heart.
...
Then I go to the history section. Genesis to Job is the whole history of the Old Testament, 17 books. I read one chapter in this section each day. I love the history of the Old Testament. It's the foundation for the rest of the bible.
...
Then to the prophets- Isaiah to Malachi. These 17 books overlap the history books and will compliment those books. Read one chapter in this section. You will be surprised how quickly you move through this section and even when you get to a difficult chapter you know you will be in another section in a few minutes.
...
Then I move to the gospels. Matthew to John are the four gospels. I read a chapter here each day and once I've gone through the gospels I start over and do it again. I always want to hang around the gospels and spend time with Jesus. When I read the gospels I get to know God. Jesus shows me what he is like. Often, as I read through the gospels I will "get into the story" and watch Jesus from inside the story. It helps me know God better.
...
Then, finally, off to the letters- Romans to Revelation. These books are the major theology books of the New Testament and will help you grow in your Christian faith. A chapter here each day.
...
There is an important thing you need to do as you begin this odyssey- get a journal. Write the date and record what you have read. It will help you keep track of what you are reading. Use the journal to record anything you learn from your reading. Your faith will grow and your journey with God will come alive. You will not be bored and the bible will become an exciting book to you.
...
Peter wrote, 2 Peter 1:3 "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." If this verse is true then the most important thing you can do for your faith is read God's word. Join me on this amazing adventure. It's a journey that will change your life.
...

Friday, December 04, 2009

A simple question



As I'm reading this morning once again I come upon a verse that wasn't there last time I read this book. This book, the Bible, continues to amaze me with its revelations. I simply am unable to understand how something I have read hundreds of times continues to reveal new things to me, but it does!

This morning, as I'm reading, I read this verse,

Eph. 5:10 ...try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

That's the entire verse! In the middle of some of the most amazing theology in the Bible this little verse hides as the ultimate goal of every believer. Most Christians I know would tell me that one of their goals in life is to be happy. I have never heard anyone say, "My goal in life is for God to be happy, to be pleased with my life." Imagine how my life would change if the first question I ask before any decision is, "I wonder what would please God?" How many choices would be different with that simple question as my first filter for any choice I make?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Family



There's nothing like family. The noise, the clutter, the visit and the babies. It's great! Here are a few photos of some kids I'm very proud of...


(click on any photo to enlarge)

.......

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Learning to pray


One of the things that I'm still working on, still struggling with, still feeling like I don't do enough is pray. What's so amazing is that the God of the universe, the creator of everything....MY creator, has invited me to come and talk to him anytime I wish and yet I know that I do not avail myself of this most amazing invitation as I should.
...
A man who really knew how to pray was Paul the apostle. Many of his prayers are written in his letters and they are absolutely amazing! Here is his prayer from my reading this morning and then a few thoughts of my own.
...
Eph 3:14-21 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
...
As I look over Paul's words all I can say is "wow!" What an amazing prayer. What it expresses, what is woven all through the prayer, is this thought- God wants to be part of your life and wants you to have all of his best gifts. From him we get our name, our supply from his riches, his Spirit to live in us, his strength for our inner man, his love, his family, understanding of how great his love really is for us, his desire to fill us with himself, his ability to do more than we could ever think, and his power to make it all happen. And, because these things are all true Paul asks God to provide them for his readers.
...
This prayer, like Paul's other prayers, is amazing and is focused on God's wonderful ability and desire to meet our needs and care for us....if we will only ask. I wonder why I let anything keep me from spending time talking to the God who is able and willing to help me with my life and my problems. I remember a story of one of the saints in centuries past who said, "I have so much to do today the only way I will get it done is to spend an extra hour in prayer." How differently we think today. And yet his invitation stands, a bold one for sure, written by the author of Hebrew-
...
Hebrews 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
...